Drivesmart column: Penalty points follow like night follows day

“I’ll pay the fine, I just don’t want the points.”

By Tim Schewe

“I’ll pay the fine, I just don’t want the points.”

This is not an uncommon desire expressed by drivers prior to a traffic court hearing when asked how they want to proceed. If the violation ticket was issued with the accused identified as the driver, penalty points follow the conviction as night follows day. There is no escaping them.

Penalty points are meant to express the relative risk of the traffic violation and are listed in Division 28 of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations.

ICBC and RoadSafetyBC use point penalties to take action against drivers convicted for not following the traffic rules. ICBC applies Driver Penalty Point Premiums and RoadSafety BC prohibits drivers based on the Driver Improvement Program.

ICBC looks at your driving record in 12 month periods and assigns penalty points according to Division 28 for each hazardous moving violation conviction reported there. If this adds up to more than three points, you are assessed a premium based on an increasing scale. The premium is billed on your birthday and payment is due within 30 days.

Non payment of the premium will result in interest charges and refusal of driver and vehicle licence transactions.

You can have your Driver Penalty Point Premium reduced or eliminated by surrendering your driver’s licence.

Being prohibited from driving for 60 days or more within the one year billing period may also reduce the premium. The driver must contact ICBC at the end of the prohibition, apply for licence reinstatement and pay outstanding debts.

RoadSafetyBC uses penalty points as one trigger for driving prohibitions.

If you are a new driver still in the Graduated Licensing Program accumulating two to six points (essentially any hazardous moving violation ticket conviction) will mean a prohibition. Being convicted of another hazardous moving violation within a two year period following a prohibition will result in the imposition of a more lengthy one.

Experienced drivers face prohibition after accumulating 15 to 19 penalty points within a two year period.

Application of the Driver Improvement Program may vary depending on the driver and the offence convictions. What is described above is not a complete picture of actions taken under the program.

Like the Motor Vehicle Act itself, Division 28 is in need of an overhaul to bring it up to date.

Currently, disobeying a stop sign under section 186 MVA carries three points and failing to stop for a red light under section 129 MVA carries only two points. These actions probably involve at least the same risk while the red light violation in general could be considered to be more risky.

Traffic tickets issued to the registered owner of a vehicle instead of to the driver do not result in penalty points on conviction.

Registered owners are liable for the use of their vehicle by others and can shift that liability by identifying the driver or showing that the vehicle was stolen. Changing the rules to remove this exemption may result in more care being exercised in who people loan their vehicles to. It would also lay proper responsibility at the feet of those who commit violations.

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca

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